How We Got Mugged In Malaysia in a Matter of Seconds

How We Got Mugged In Malaysia

Updated:

Mugged In Malaysia – A few weeks ago we were sitting in a colorful Trishaw (bicycle taxi), touring the streets of Georgetown in Penang while filming a new travel episode and chitchatting with the old wrinkled man behind us pushing the bike.

In reality, it would have been faster to simply walk, so it was a little funny to see people walking past us, but we weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.

“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen – keep in the sunlight” – Benjamin Franklin

This was Georgetown’s Malaysia answer to the ‘ice cream truck’.

The man was biking around the streets with a portable bread shop selling sandwiches.

How he managed to bike with that thing in front of him is a mystery.

George town Malaysia ice cream truck
George town Malaysia ice cream truck

How We Got Mugged In Malaysia

Then, in the matter of seconds, it happened.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, two men on a motorbike came up from behind us – the guy behind the driver was sitting backwards on the motorbike, turned towards us (obviously prepared).

He broke out into a big smile as if greeting us, while at the same time grabbing the camera that Nathan was holding in both hands by his chest, forcing it out of his hands at the same time as the driver on the motorbike accelerated to gain more power, and drove off.

It all happened really fast, but it was one of those moments when time suddenly stops and everything seems to happen in slow motion.

Those who have ever seen me get mad, know not to let it happen again.

It takes a lot for me to snap, but when I do I get a death look that shocks people in ways you can’t imagine.

That guy on the motorbike was one of the few who got to see it.

I gave him “the death look”, let out a long, loud animal-like scream, and as I leaped out of the seat, the guy’s arrogant smile had turned into a look of pure terror.

How We Got Mugged In Malaysia
How We Got Mugged In Malaysia

I knew there was nothing I could do to get it back, but I would NOT let him get away with my camera while still smiling.

That was the fastest way we’ve seen 4,000 US dollars disappear out of our hands ever.

The poor old trishaw man was close to tears, and tried to pedal as fast as he could, helplessly repeating “wait, I tell my boss”, making his way to the “boss”. 

At the police station, I cried – not of pity, but of anger.

I was so pissed off by how anyone can justify mugging someone.

They have no excuse, being poor is not a valid excuse, especially not when they could obviously afford a motorbike and fuel, a luxury in my opinion.

It was not losing the camera that made me so mad, it was losing the memory card with all our photos and video footage on it.

Sometimes Safety Is Not The Problem
Sometimes Safety Is Not The Problem

Sometimes Safety Is Not The Problem

During the last 4 years of traveling, this has never happened before – which in other words means, I guess it had to happen some time.

People can go on and on about how you have to be careful with your stuff, but there is a limit to that too.

Sure, it might have been safer keeping the camera inside a bag, but what’s the point of having a camera if you’re not using it?

During our travels, we’ve met quite a few travelers who have chosen not to bring even a cheap point and shoot camera with them on their trips – in fear of losing it.

I think that’s taking it too far.

It sucks to be mugged, but I can’t imagine having traveled to all these countries for so many years without having taken one single picture – just for the sake of not getting mugged.

What We Learned How to avoid getting mugged

How to avoid being mugged – Incidentally, we had just (a few weeks earlier) changed our insurance company from World Nomads to another company which we felt seemed more willing to help out rather than trying to find every opportunity to avoid paying out.

It always stings a bit when you pay a lot for something you probably won’t need, but I was so glad I had my insurance this time, and while we didn’t get the full amount back, getting half of it was not too bad (the new insurance we use is called ERV).

Having a good insurance makes things so much easier, and only two weeks after claiming the insurance we were paid without any further questions.

I’m not afraid of buying another expensive camera, to be honest we probably got more money back from the insurance than we would have got by selling our second-hand gear – don’t let one bad experience make you expect it to happen again – it might, but it also might not. Checkout our Kuala Lumpur City Guide

5 Things Learned From Malaysian People

This was our second visit to Malaysia, and it was a lot of fun returning to a place two years later to see if our impressions were different this time around.

Malaysian people
Malaysian people

It became clear to me that many of my past experiences from the country had more to do with myself than anything else.

Last time I found it hard to decide whether I liked the country or not: sometimes I wanted to get away from it asap, other times I loved it.

This time I had a better idea about the place, but one thing that hadn’t changed, was that it’s still a country which I found hard to define.

There are so many culture mixes here that it’s hard putting a finger on what and how Malaysia is.

But here are some things I’ve learned about the Malaysian people during our time here:

They openly show emotions

Unlike in Thailand, the Malaysian people didn’t seem hesitant to show negative emotions, and didn’t at all avoid confrontations.

When you questioned something you got a straight answer and an honest opinion from them, whether it was a taxi driver, restaurant waiter or street worker.

It was all very straight forward, which we really loved.

They weren’t afraid of asking for your opinion and thoughts, and actually wanted to hear what you had to say about their food, culture etc.

They were also very open to show positive emotions, and would crack a joke with you without thinking further into what they were doing.

They point with their knuckles and thumb

This was something we had to get used to doing as well.

Nobody points with their index finger in Malaysia, it’s considered really rude, but thumbs and knuckles are pointed everywhere.

They are talkative

So many words, so little time – the hawkers are experts at counting up everything they offer while you pass by.

But it’s not just the people trying to sell you something who talk a lot, the Malaysian people seem to simply like conversing with people in general.

While in many other countries salesmen only talk to you until you have bought (or denied) something, here they continued talking about other things even once they understood that you wouldn’t buy it.

Taxi drivers more than happily shared their thoughts about the city, government and people, shop keepers made jokes, and people on the street started conversations.

They stare

The Malaysian people are not afraid of coming on too strong and stare freely, even when they know that you know that they’re looking.

They’re not being rude, just curious. The stares are not judging, so after you get used to it, it’s not very awkward anymore.

They’re multi cultural and have no private space

Chinese eat Indian curries, Indians eat Arab food and Arabs eat Nyonya food.

In many countries the people separate themselves and only hang out with their own “peers”, while here they seemed to hang out with anyone no matter religion or origin.

Another thing I noticed was how they didn’t mind sitting down at a strangers’ table in a restaurant and eat – talking or not talking to the one sitting in front of you, it was not a big deal.

This is something which is very different from my own culture, where it would take a lot for two strangers to share a table at a restaurant.

6 Things To Do In Malaysia

Malaysia is a country where you will find an obvious West /East meeting point – combine the two and you get a crazy mixture – where Dutch clogs go with Indian curry and Portuguese churches.

It is a total mix of both the best and the worst of each culture, and you either hate it or love it, but you’ll never leave Malaysia without a strong impression.

I changed my mind about this country many times. At first I hated it, then I didn’t know what to think, and eventually I loved it.

For me Malaysia was one of those countries which grows on you, and will show it’s good side if you just give it some time.

These are my top picks for having the best experience on mainland Malaysia (I have yet to visit my dream location: Borneo).

Checkout our Kuala Lumpur City Guide

Cameron Highlands in Malaysia is full of exotic flowers loving the cool, wet climate in the hills.

Cameron Highlands in Malaysia
Cameron Highlands in Malaysia

Visiting The Malls In Kuala Lumpur

The crazy thing about Kuala Lumpur is that you can basically travel through the whole city never walking OUT of shopping malls!

Wherever you go you will suddenly find yourself inside another and then another shopping mall.

When you step off the tram you have already stepped into a mall – to be able to find your way in these mega malls you often need a map.

Visiting the malls in KL is an experience even if you’re not buying anything.

There is always something going on, beauty competitions, runway shows, shows for newly released watches and other luxury items, and in one of the malls they have actually built an indoor roller-coaster..!

Tea And Strawberries In Cameron Highlands
Tea And Strawberries In Cameron Highlands

Tea And Strawberries In Cameron Highlands

The fun and odd thing about Malaysia is the well embedded multi-culture of the country.

People from countries and religions all over the world have shared this land for centuries, and have settled their own traditions and cultures in the city.

In Cameron Highlands you will see the British culture with strawberry plantations, European flora and fauna as well as the tea plantations.

The climate is a lot colder, and I haven’t seen any place like this in South East Asia.

Great place to get away from the normally humid, warm Asia.

Our visit to Cameron Highlands turned out to be a very rainy one…

Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands

Chilling Out On The Perhentian Islands

These are a group of islands you literally will never want to leave.

We stayed there for two weeks instead of the planned 3 days.

It has that typical “hide away” feeling and the islands are far from exploited.

When we went there there weren’t many tourists at all, and they also tended to only stay on the most popular island and only on that very beach, not even looking around to see what more there was on the island.

The water is warm and crystal clear, and you can take your PADI diving certificate, go island hopping or just go snorkeling all day long.

Places You Must Visit in Malaysia

Penang Food Famous Malaysia Sweets

Malaysia is know to have the best food in all of Asia, and it certainly is diverse.

Thanks to all the influence of different countries and their food traditions, Malaysia food is a mixture of it all together.

Some food is really strange, but much of it is pretty tasty too.

Don’t be surprised if you see Dutch Apfelstrudeln (apple pie) next to Indian Samosa on the menu!

Penang Food

Penang is famous for many things, but the reason we wanted to go there was simple: the Penang Food was supposedly amazing.

When we heard this we were sold, and left Thailand to indulge in Indian curries for one fifth of the price in Penang.

What makes Penang a food heaven are the many varieties of cuisine; Arabic food stalls, thai restaurants, Indian, Malay, Nyonya, Chinese, Lebanese… the list goes on.

Our favorite of the famous Malaysia sweets

Nyonya Kuih in Palm Sugar Sauce

Nyonya Kuih in Palm Sugar Sauce
Nyonya Kuih in Palm Sugar Sauce

Made of glutinous rice this steamed sweet is actually pretty tasty.

The palm sugar coconut sauce tasted a bit like licorice, and the nyonya kuih was also pretty nice, if you’re used to jelly sweets.

It’s made out of pea flour and Pandan juice.

There are many different varieties of the Kuih, but ours was pretty simple with one layer only.

The Nyonya kuihs are very popular in Penang.

Nyonya is a traditional Penang food, and refer to the Chinese migrants who came to Penang and other parts of Malaysia in the 18th century.

The food is a mixture between Malay and Chinese cuisine, and is called Nyonya food.

Cendol

Green noodles in coconut milk, brown sugar and shaved ice.

Yes, you read it correctly, those are the actual ingredients.

It sounds crazy, but it’s one of the most common desserts in Malaysia and has been part of the Penang food tradition for decades.

Some have been selling Cendol since the 1920’s, and although it’s weird, it’s worth a try just to know what this combination would taste like!

Fried Ais Krim Goreng

Fried Ais Krim Goreng
Fried Ais Krim Goreng

The ultimate recipe for weight gain (although they’re small in size), but oh so delicious!

Some people might not like the warm oily deep fried crust covering cold and creamy cookies and cream ice cream inside – but I LOVED it.

The Fried Ais Krim Goreng is a Malaysian favorite treat, and you’ll see it everywhere on the Penang food menus.

Ais Kachang

Ais Kachang
Ais Kachang

The famous national Malaysian favorite dessert, Ais Kacang – is just so weird that you have to try it.

Beans, corn, fruit, nata de coco, grass jelly, cubes of  agar agar, and ice cream on top.

Yeah, it really tastes as weird as it sounds!

If the Penang food isn’t surprising enough for your taste buds, I can guarantee you that this dessert will be.

This is even weirder than Cendol – this is the weirdest dessert I’ve ever had.

Red beans, ice cream, lychee fruit, corn, shaven ice and grass jelly?

All mixed up, and it tastes….interesting…

Parts of the dish are sweet and blend together really well, like the fresh fruit, ice cream and jelly.

But then you get these bites of bean, corn and water (the ice melts really quickly), which doesn’t blend very well with he flavors.

The Ais Kachang used to only consist of shaved ice and red beans, so the additional flavors.

If a little strange, definitely make this type of Penang food taste better.

Indian Sweets

Karanji
Karanji

When in Georgetown, you have to try the Indian sweets!

The Indian servings are pretty big (some gigantic, so look out!).

So you probably won’t feel like dessert when walking out of the restaurant – but buy it for later, because you will want to try and see what those bright colored things really taste like.

Don’t expect anything sweet like the western candy, this is totally different.

Karanji is a common sweet, but there are often whole stalls selling Indian sweets only, in all kinds of colors and shapes.

Steamed and Fried Kuih

Fried Kuih is a local delicacy in Malaysia, a mixture between Chinese and Malay style cuisine.

They come in all shapes and colors.

The Kuih is a rather strange part of the traditional Penang food, as it almost looks inedible.

It actually tastes pretty good, and is not as sweet as it looks.

Many Malays have a plate of Kuih only for lunch, and since they’re pretty filling, that is enough food to last you a few hours.

Steamed and Fried Kuih
Steamed and Fried Kuih

Ride A Trishaw In Melaka

Trishaw In Melaka
Trishaw In Melaka

If you think you’ve seen it all, you must check out the colorful trishaws.

These bike taxis outshine all other forms transports from around the world!

For the taxi-bike drivers it is fierce competition to have the coolest bike, decorating it with all junk you could ever find, and the more glitter and lights the better.

To top it, these guys take you around the city with techno music pumping out of their speakers at the highest volume.

The Crazy Multi-Culture Connection

People from all religions live together here, in a country with several cultural heritages, and it’s all just a mixture of everything;

Dutch clogs, belly dancing, karaoke contests – and temple dance classes.

Everywhere we went in Malaysia they were having dance classes.

Men and women, young and old, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu, all practicing dance moves together.

This in all sorts of places, all from 90’s pop music in a public garage to “Pussy Cat Dolls” in a temple.

Enjoyment And Relaxation In The Perhentian Islands

I hadn’t quite been able to make up my mind about Malaysia yet.

At first I hated it, then I didn’t know what to think – and then we went to the Perhentian islands on the east coast.

Do I need to say more than – this was the view from our bedroom!

Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands

I truly believe that it is humanly impossible not to fall in love with these islands (if you despite this hated them, please comment below and tell me why!), it really is paradise itself.

We were going to stay for only 3 days, but ended up staying for a little more than 2 weeks (16 days!).

After some time in the bustling Kuala Lumpur we needed to escape somewhere quiet for a bit – and this couldn’t have been a better place to end up in.

We didn’t realize how much we needed this until we arrived at the beach.

I really enjoyed the peace and the fact that there was pretty much nothing to do but relaxing, swimming and reading a nice book by the beach.

If there would have been a lot of crazy adventure we wouldn’t have been able to stand against the temptation and would have continued to burn ourselves out – this place is the PERFECT stress release and relaxation place!

I guess we weren’t the only couple enjoying the island… 😉

These lizards were MASSIVE by the way – not something you really want to meet in the middle of the night, and then finding out they like to eat anything and everything – scary!

Perhentian Islands – Malaysia

Beautiful Islands Around The World
Beautiful Islands Around The World

If we weren’t so reliant on modern technologies like the internet, this would be the ultimate paradise for us.

On Kecil island you have corals right off the beach on one side of the island, and a long white beach with the clearest water ever on the other side.

Perhentian islands are close to each other which makes it easy to take day trips and go island hopping.

Aside from chilling out under a coconut tree you can take a diving certificate or if you’re there at the right time of the year watch turtles hatch and crawl from the beach to the water.

There is something for everyone even when it comes to accommodation, both cheap bungalows and luxury hotels.

Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other

Updated:

After a couple of days enjoying the best of Singapore, we had the pleasure of traveling on the Eastern and Oriental Express up to Bangkok – the train took us through the jungles of Malaysia and rice fields of Thailand during 3 luxurious and unforgettable days.

Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other

Check-In & Boarding

Eastern And Oriental Express
Eastern And Oriental Express

Since Woodland’s train station is slightly out of town, we checked in for the train at the Regent Hotel, a five star hotel on Orchard Road with the same luxurious, traditional style of the Eastern and Oriental Express train.

The air was filled with excitement, and looking around the room there were all sorts of people who were taking the journey: solo travelers, couples, friends and families.

From the hotel we were driven by bus to the train station, where the border crossing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced (why can’t all border crossings be like this?), a world away from how we crossed the border into Singapore just a few days earlier …

The Compartments

Pullman Cabin
Pullman Cabin

When boarding the Eastern and Oriental Express, your steward takes you to your “room” – there are 3 types of compartments: Pullman Cabins (bunk beds), State Cabins (twin beds) and Presidential Suites.

They’re all very well appointed and beautifully designed with walls of cherry wood and romantic decorations in Oriental style.

We stayed in a Pullman Cabin, which was slightly small but well laid out – each cabin has a bathroom with shower, a writing desk, panoramic windows and a couch that is converted into beds by the steward when you’re out for dinner.

The Highlights

highlights on the Eastern and Oriental Express
highlights on the Eastern and Oriental Express

The observation car was one of the highlights on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and one of the first things we decided to check out.

When there is no window separating you from the rice fields, jungles and rural countryside, it feels more real: you can smell the country – hear it – feel it.

The view from the train was exactly like in the movies, where children play by the tracks and farmers look up and waive their hands with a big smile as you pass.

The saloon car, library car, restaurant cars and piano bar car really made you feel like you had stepped back into a glamorous past.

There was a traditional luxury over the whole train, both in the design as much as in the service and general vibe.

Chit-chatting over a tray of peanuts and a glass of wine while listening to beautiful piano music was a reality I never thought possible on a train – everything was immaculate and so full of character and charm.

Dining

Eastern and Oriental Express Dining
Eastern and Oriental Express Dining

We felt truly spoiled with the exceptional food we indulged in during the trip on Eastern and Oriental Express.

A lot of thought and skill were put into every single dish, from the unique mixture of Asian and European influences to the presentation – I have no idea how the chefs managed to make such great food in such tiny kitchens on a bumpy train!

Eastern And Oriental Express
Eastern And Oriental Express

Breakfast is served in the cabin on a big tray with everything from Danish pastries to local Malaysian tea.

Lunch is served in one of the restaurant cars, and we were surprised to find that even this was a full 4 course meal!

Afternoon tea was served in the cabin, with a nice selection of local treats to try.

We really liked how they used a lot of local Asian ingredients and specialties – the local cuisine is a big part of experiencing a country, and on the Eastern and Oriental Express you really got a taste of South East Asia.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in the span of three short days..!

The dinner on the Eastern and Oriental Express is quite an event, where suit jacket and tie is compulsory for men, and women dress up in evening dresses.

To see everyone dress up in their finest clothes, from a Kimono to evening gowns and lots and lots of glittering jewels, really enhanced the whole occasion – and I got to enjoy the rare sight of Nathan in a suit 😉

In the romantic dining cars you’re served a 5-course meal every evening, with some absolutely delicious desserts and chocolates to finish the night in perfection.

The Entertainment

Eastern and Oriental Express views
Eastern and Oriental Express views

With fruit tasting, palm reading, foot massage and a Thai dance show, there are many things to keep you busy on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and on both days of the journey you take a small excursion.

In Malaysia you go for a guided Trishaw tour around Georgetown, Penang, and in Thailand you visit the Bridge on the River Kwai for a boat tour and a museum visit.

These are great ways to take in the culture of the places you visit, but it’s the journey and the Eastern and Oriental Express in itself that is the real experience.

The Service

Eastern and Oriental Express service
Eastern and Oriental Express service

While the Eastern and Oriental Express truly knows how to provide a glamorous vibe and luxurious experience, what made the journey most memorable, were the exceptional staff.

They treated it like something more than just a job, they were really enjoying it – and it showed through.

They were professional and yet personal, making us feel very pampered and special.

The staff makes all the difference, and the people working for this company were what made the journey the best it could possibly be – this trip was something very special for everyone onboard the train, and the staff treated it as though it was special also for them.

Our journey with the Eastern and Oriental Express was exactly what people say it is: a journey like no other!

VIDEO: Eastern & Oriental Express – Singapore To Bangkok

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to travel on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok.

The 3-day trip was one of pure indulgence with good food, beautiful views and 5-star service!

It’s a beautiful train and a trip of a lifetime, and we made a short video summing up our experience – check it out below:

You can also read more about the trip below:

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review
Epic Train Journey
We’re Going Back To Europe!

It’s Time For Another Epic Train Journey

Time For Another Epic Train Journey Eastern and Oriental Express
Time For Another Epic Train Journey

Our days in Malaysia have mostly consisted of an identical pattern: eating, working, walking, eating, working, walking – in other words, just what we had planned to do.

Malaysia is unlike any other country, more multi-cultural than you can imagine, and the people are incredibly friendly – it was the perfect place to settle down for a couple of weeks to work and relax.

Our next stop is Singapore, a place we’ve never been to before and are really excited to explore.

BUT the bigger news is that next Tuesday (after spending a week in Singapore), we’ll be embarking on a train journey in what is perhaps the most romantic, and definitely the most luxurious way to see South East Asia – with the Eastern & Oriental Express.

The Route

Epic Train Journey
Epic Train Journey

This epic train journey will take us through the dense rain forests, wide open orchards and remote towns with the comfort and luxury of a five star hotel.

It will be a three day trip from Singapore to Bangkok, with daily excursions along the way.

The Eastern & Oriental Express is a luxury train (with 3-day tickets starting from 2,400US per person) a world away from the usual trains that run along this route: pure indulgence in luxury and comfort – the perfect match to the famous quote:

“It’s all about the journey, not the destination”.

The Train

Luxury Eastern & Oriental Express
Luxury Eastern & Oriental Express

This is the ideal train journey for travelers who enjoy the comfort of luxury resorts, but want to explore more of the country they visit than just sitting by the beach.

The Eastern & Oriental Express route was created in 1992 by the same people who operate the Simplon Orient Express.

They bought the Japanese made coaches that served the Auckland – Wellington route in 1972-1979.

The exterior is the same, but internally the coaches have been completely rebuilt inside to top luxury standards, with en suite sleeping compartments, two dining cars, piano bar car, observation car, observation car lounge and a saloon & reading room car.

Our Expectations

Orient Express trains
Orient Express trains

The different Orient Express trains that have been operating around the world for centuries awake mythical tales and stories of murder and mystery, spies such as exotic ‘artiste’ Mata Hari and Robert Baden Powell, a French president who “fell off the train”, and more.

Novels like Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” have shaped this idea of exotic mystery, and while some of these tales are probably less true than others, we look forward to find out what stories await us on our own journey.

While we will be offline during our trip, we’ll tell you all about it when we get back to “real life” again on arrival in Bangkok.

(photo credit: 1)

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review

Eastern & Oriental Express – The Photo Essay

The best way to describe what the Eastern & Oriental Express was really like is to simply show you – after all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Below we have put together a photo essay to showcase the best of our train trip (you will even see us dressed to the max in a suit & evening dress :P) – also if you would like to read more about the train and our personal journey.

Eastern & Oriental Express
Eastern & Oriental Express

The observation car was one of our favorite things about the E&O – located at the very end of the train, you could enjoy the landscape sweeping past, slowly changing as you traveled from the south in Singapore all the way up north to Bangkok.

Those getting up early to watch the sunrise through the mist were served hot tea, which added a nice touch to the colonial ambiance of the car.

Eastern & Oriental Express
Eastern & Oriental Express

Our conversations during lunch were always interrupted by one of us going “hey – look at that!” pointing out the window, seeing something odd, funny or amazing.

Like Agatha Christie says: Trains are wonderful… to travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns… and rivers, in fact, to see life.

Luxury on Eastern & Oriental Express
Luxury on Eastern & Oriental Express

This journey was all about relaxing, indulging and enjoying yourself.

After all the extra hassle that comes with planning your own travels, it was really nice to have a break and just sit back and relax letting the exceptional and friendly staff take care of everything for you, from the excursions to the wonderful food.

When darkness fell outside the window, the train got even brighter and livelier inside – men dressed up in tuxedos and a tie, women putting on their evening dresses and glimmering jewels, and the piano bar full of people mingling after dinner with a glass of wine or two.

Food on Eastern & Oriental Express
Food on Eastern & Oriental Express

And finally, the food – those who know me are well aware that I have a SERIOUS sweet tooth, so as you can see I was very spoiled with all the beautiful desserts and sweets served on the train.

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review

Updated:

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review – Dorms are not exactly known to give you much privacy – you sleep together with a bunch of strangers in squeaky bunk beds while someone else’s sweaty feet climb the little ladder on the side of the bed next to your face, and wherever you look you’re facing someone else in a bed in front of you.

Well, there is a different sort of bunk bed system which is becoming more and more popular around the world, that claims to tackle some of these annoyances: pod beds.

We had never tried this concept before, and were curious to see how different a dorm experience would be with pod beds – so we decided to check out Matchbox The Concept Hostel, which is one of the most popular hostels in Singapore.

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review
Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review

The Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore Review

Matchbox is one of the new “upmarket hostels” that are emerging in Singapore, catering to so-called “flashpackers”, although I have to say they’re keeping their prices quite reasonable when it comes to Singapore accommodation.

While the hostel is in a historical shophouse, the interior is refurbished into a very modern and immaculately clean place.

With foot and back massager, cardio exerciser, washing and drying machines, all-day breakfast and a large pantry with designer bean bags, board games and a big plasma TV with DVD’s – you feel right at home.

Super fast wifi spans throughout the hostel (or you can use their laptops for free if you don’t have one), there is an iPod docking station in every room, and a nice and quiet A/C.

The greatest thing about the hostel is that all of the above, plus towels and other extras, are included in the price – there are no annoying hidden extras and add-ons.

Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore
Matchbox Concept Hostel In Singapore

The Dorms

Matchbox Concept dorm
Matchbox Concept dorm

So you sleep in a type of capsule/pod bed cabin, giving you that well needed private space, your own little “crib”, where you can hang out and sleep undisturbed.

There are three room types to choose from; a 2 bed dorm, 10 bed female dorm and 16 bed mixed dorm – there are two types of pod cabins, the single pod and the double pod which is the size of a queen size bed.

We slept in a queen size bed on the upper bunk, and there was plenty of room for both of us.

It was actually very cozy, and it reminded me slightly of one of those tree houses you always dreamed to have as a kid.

With each cabin having its own lights and reading lights, the light of the dorm was very isolated, so nobody would disturb you if they woke up early, or if you slept in.

The bed was super comfy, with thick duvets and plush custom designed pillows to snuggle up in.

Location

Tucked away on Ann Siang Road, a smaller street in the heritage district of Chinatown, the location couldn’t have been better.

Close to both fancy bars and cheap restaurants, night markets and shopping centers, it’s a great place to embrace the Chinese culture of Singapore, and being close to bus stops and the MRT station in Chinatown, it’s easy to get around the city from there.

Next time you’re in Singapore, I’d definitely recommend you to check out this place!

Checkout out our:
What is a Hostel?
How To Book A Hostel
Nightmare Hostel Stories, Every Backpacker Has One
Travel Etiquette Tips for Travel Hostel Newbies
Basic Hostel Manners Are Important

Matchbox The Concept Hostel

Prices: Single bed in 12 dorm room S$45 – Double Bed S$88 – Single bed in Ladies 6 dorm room S$52
Address: 39 Ann Siang Road, 069716, Singapore
Website: www.matchbox.sg
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Things To Do In Singapore

Things To Do In Singapore
Things To Do In Singapore

During our week in Singapore, we found it to be a very exciting place to visit.

The country has gone to many lengths to encourage tourists to visit, and since everything was so easy to reach you could manage to do a lot of things in a short period of time – in other words, a perfect place to visit for only 1 week.

A modern metropolis, Singapore is incredibly well-structured, organised and yes, it is true that you get fined for spitting on the street, littering and chewing gum on the train!

What you would think is just common sense, is a strict law in Singapore, but because of this the city is cleaner and greener than any other cosmopolitan city we’ve visited in South East Asia.

You’re not even allowed to drive a car that’s older than 10 years, so everything truly is brand new.

Here are some great things to do in Singapore…

Go On A Shopping Spree

Shopping in Singapore
Shopping in Singapore

One of the main reasons people choose Singapore as a holiday destination is because of its shopping opportunities – and you can take full advantage of these on a short break or stop-over.

Orchard Road is considered the most famous shopping district with haute couture labels and fantastic window displays.

If you happen to be in the country during a major celebration, then store sales will definitely be in your favour.

Due to the tropical heat, Singapore has plenty of mega malls which will have you shopping hours on end without breaking a sweat.

Although, we all know that local markets are much more authentic and exciting.

The best time to visit the markets is in the evening – walking through the market in China Town in midday is like a sweaty concrete jungle and with the smell of Peking duck and smoked pork, it can get a little overpowering at the best of times.

For cheaper alternatives, Little India has some shopping malls, markets and boutiques that are worth a look.

Explore The Cultural Diversion

Little India, Chinatown and Arab
Little India, Chinatown and Arab

With a wide variety of different cultures, it is the people that really make the city what it is today as flickers of traditional designs and customs still peek through this modern day metropolis.

With Little India, Chinatown and Arab Street, you feel like you’re exploring several different countries in one day – only a cleaner version of “the real thing”.

All of these areas have their own charm, delicious food and local handicrafts typical for their culture – my favorite, however, was Arab Street and its surrounding alleys, absolutely amazing!

Take In The Awesome Architecture

Architecture
Architecture

With the city growing and updating itself at rapid speed, the trend for modern buildings, including unique holiday accommodation, is forever increasing to new levels.

The newest instalment to the city’s skyline is the Marina Bay Sands Skypark.

Or as I like to say, ‘The Floating Boat’.

A hotel, casino and club, this is where people are starting to base themselves for a long night out.

Walk along the bay, and watch the “laser light and water show” at night, which aims to capture the essence of Singapore (Sunday to Thursday at 8pm and 9:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, 9:30pm and 11pm).

Visit The Parks

Singapore parks
Singapore parks

Capturing the skyline of Singapore is definitely a “must-do”, but you’ll find that the city is much more than just high rise buildings.

There are a huge number of green parks around the city, and the amazing Botanical Garden was one of our favorites to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For those who are in the city for less than a day, Singapore’s tourism industry has put together a bus tour around the city’s major sights.

Although the airport is ranked as one of the best in the world and more than equipped for those who are on quite a long stop-over, having a quick city tour set up is great.

We did the Hop On – Hop Off tour to faster get around the city to the places we wanted to explore, and we found it to be very useful.

It’s Time For Another Epic Train Journey
Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other

Things to do in Singapore with Kids

Singapore, like many other Asian countries, is known for its hospitality and true love of children.

Many families choose to holiday in Singapore, as there is always an essence of safety and welcoming in the air.

If you do decide to take your next family getaway to Singapore, you won’t be short on fun things to do, with theme parks, zoos and widespread gardens to keep you entertained.

When heading out with the kids, be sure to check out these great, family-friendly places in Singapore.

Singapore with Kids
Singapore with Kids

Singapore Zoo & Safari Park

Lunching with lions and incredible night safaris pretty much sums up what the Singapore Zoo and Safari Park is all about.

With admission less than $10 for children, this is an affordable day out and a great experience for kids of all ages.

Have a fun day out with your children, while teaching them a thing or two about hundreds of different animal species – this is truly a day out that the whole family will enjoy.

Wild Wild Wet

Theme parks are always a favourite with kids and, as far as Singapore goes, this is the best.

The ultimate water park, Wild Wild Wet provides children and families with a fun-filled day out!

Thrills and Excitement will be had by all as you race down ‘The Waterworks’ at lightning fast speeds or grab the whole family and take the ultimate super flume ride on the ‘Ular-Lah’.

Wild Wild Wet is perfect for kids of all ages (even the big kids at heart!) with shallow areas and play equipment, suitable for all ages.

Singapore Flyer

Make your kids feel like superheros as they glide 165 metres above the ground, in the world’s largest observatory wheel.

This 20 minute ride is exhilarating and provides the most spectacular views of the city skyline.

Underwater World

Coming face to face with some of the rarest and most deadly marine wildlife in the world is sure to be an exciting day.

Let your kids explore this underwater journey, through tunnels and ever changing exhibitions of fish, sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Jurong Bird Park

Let your kids experience the colour and beauty of nature as they watch more than 380 species of gracious bird wildlife.

While the park covers a great area of space, there is also an air-conditioned monorail, so you can enjoy the wonders of the park without tired (and sometimes whiny) children.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Most things in Singapore won’t open until around 11am, so if you’re up early and your kids are ready to go, why not go for a stroll through the Botanical Gardens, completing a lovely morning with a picnic by the lake.

Universal Studios Singapore

World renowned for providing visitors with a consistently amazing experience, Universal Studios Singapore will not disappoint.

Whether you’re a bit of a movie buff or just want to get amongst the action of Jurassic Park, you’re bound to have a blast at Universal Studios Singapore.

When travelling from Australia, it’s easy to find cheap flights to Singapore, so why not make this your next family adventure?

While there’s plenty of things to see and do for the kids, parents will also love this unique and unforgettable holiday destination.

(photo credit: 1)

Impressions Of Sri Lanka – What You Need To Know!

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Impressions Of Sri Lanka – After spending three weeks in Sri Lanka, we left the country with many new impressions and experiences.

Sri Lanka had given us so many contrasting experiences, and the charismatic people we had met along the way had given us different insights into the country and its people.

It was interesting to see how this country has quickly risen from a long time of struggling and hardship, and is today really starting to take shape and create its own identity.

Impressions Of Sri Lanka
Impressions Of Sri Lanka

Impressions Of Sri Lanka – The People

I really enjoyed the people in Sri Lanka, and can honestly say that they were among the friendliest people I’ve met.

We often felt that the people we met were genuinely interested in us, and were happy to share a lot about themselves as well.

Children or adults, they were all easy to talk to and everyone always said hello, waiving from the car or street.

Being invited to a Sri Lankan family’s home was a great example of their openness and hospitality, but that wasn’t the only time we experienced this; on the buses and trains, on the streets and in hotels, the people were incredibly friendly and often greeted us with big smiles as soon as you made eye contact.

Many Sri Lankans were very positive about the future, something which you could tell not only in conversations but everywhere around you.

For example, hotels seemed to be built in a way where they could easily add new floors once business was prospering.

Impressions Of Sri Lanka Food

Impressions Of Sri Lanka Food
Impressions Of Sri Lanka Food

The portions in Sri Lanka are massive – sometimes when we ordered two meals, the waiter would tell us that one would be enough for both of us (some pretty honest people!), which turned out to be very true.

We were expecting the food to be similar to that of India, but found that the Sri Lankan cuisine had a very distinct style of its own.

If you ever travel to Sri Lanka, you have to try their street food!

There are Roti (a type of pancake) in an endless variety, lots of pastries, and the very popular buffalo curd, which you will love or hate.

Sri Lankans also seem incredibly fond of their foul smelling “Wood Apple”, which surprisingly tastes delicious as a milkshake.

The Nature

Sri Lanka Food Nature
Sri Lanka Food Nature

From postcard-perfect beaches with palm trees hanging over the waterfront of a milky turquoise ocean and colorful wooden fishing boats, to lush rain forest, countless of waterfalls and tea plantations.

Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful and diverse nature I’ve ever seen.

There is a little bit of everything for everyone when it comes to the nature in Sri Lanka, surfers and beach bums will love the beaches, hikers will love the mountains and views, and adventurous people will love the wild life and how easy it is to find “unexplored” and “off the beaten path” areas.

You can see a lot of it from the train window, but getting up close with the nature there is a very unique experience!

The Prices

Sri Lanka Food Train
Sri Lanka Food Train

We were actually very surprised, and confused, about the cost of things in Sri Lanka.

Compared to other countries in South and South East Asia, Sri Lanka is not cheap – you simply get less for what you pay for.

Public transport was insanely cheap, but also incredibly difficult to use.

Trains often only went twice a day, and at the time we were there they were so overcrowded that even the ticket salesmen often advised us to take a taxi.

To see many of the places and attractions in an area you often need a driver, so hiring one for a week or the entire duration of your stay is actually a really good idea – but naturally, this will also cost you more.

The fees to temples and cultural sites, were often surprisingly high, which put us off a little since we weren’t prepared for that.

So, as a conclusion, Sri Lanka offers a lot to see and do, but to really be able to do it all and get the very most of the country when it comes to attractions, bring a bigger budget than to India and SEA.

Explore Sri Lanka In 4 Mins VIDEO

Earlier this year we spent 3 weeks traveling around Sri Lanka, a country with incredible diverse nature and the most charming people.

Sri Lanka is so full of surprises and experiences, there are so many things to see and do there that we didn’t feel that 3 weeks was enough.

Here is a video we made of our our 3 week trip: in under 4 minutes on video – enjoy!

4 Reasons To Visit Sri Lanka

We knew that D-Day (Day of Decision Making) would come sooner or later, but like always we kept avoiding it by having “more important things to think about”.

Which led to us being just as late in our planning as always.

Somehow we always manage to leave these things to the very last minute.

In 3 weeks we’ll have to pack our bags and leave Germany…but to where?

When doing some brainstorming the other day, the idea of going to Sri Lanka came up.

The reasons to travel to Sri Lanka are many, and these four reasons were just a few that made us excited about wanting to go there…

World Class Beaches and Surfing

Visit Sri Lanka
Visit Sri Lanka

The thing I didn’t like about the beaches in Thailand was that the water was absolutely still, something which got very boring after some time.

Sri Lanka has the best of both worlds; paradise beaches and good surfing.

Unawatuna has been voted as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by Discovery Channel, and people take Sri Lanka holidays to surf at Arugam Bay, one of the top 10 surf destinations in the world.

Indulgence In Food And Tea

Often one of the main reasons I travel to a country is because of the food.

Being a vegetarian it might seem odd that I’m such a food fanatic, but for some reason it has had the opposite effect on me and has made me even more fascinated about food.

Sri Lanka is heaven when it comes to vegetarian food, which makes it another great reason to visit.

It is also one of the largest exporters of tea in the world.

In other words, perfect for tea lovers like me, besides, few things are more beautiful than the sight of rolling hills with tea plantations that look like velvet.

Visit Sri Lanka Culture and Festivals

Sri Lanka Culture and Festivals
Sri Lanka Culture and Festivals

One of the best ways to get an insight into a country’s tradition and culture is to attend the festivals and celebrations, and there are so many festivals in Sri Lanka that it seems like the people there love to find reasons to celebrate..!

One of the biggest celebrations is the annual Perahera festival in Kandy, a Buddhist celebration with elephant parades and dances – something I would love to see!

Elephant Encounters

I’m quite cautious when it comes to elephant centers, as I know that many of them mistreat their animals, and it’s sometimes difficult to know as a visitor.

In Sri Lanka, the Asian Elephants were hunted close to extinction during the British colonial period, and are now endangered.

But the country has made many efforts to increase the elephant population, promoting eco tourism and has as many as nine national parks, seven bird sanctuaries and several conservation centers like Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

It seems like a good place to meet these huge gentle animals without feeling guilty.

To read more about our time in Sri Lanka, check out the articles.

Sri Lanka Elephant Encounters
Sri Lanka Elephant Encounters

5 Reasons to Visit the Maldives

With so many beautiful holiday destinations to choose from, planning a romantic holiday isn’t easy – however, here are just a few reasons to visit the Maldives:

The Weather

One of the main attractions of island life is the tropical climes.

Unlike many holiday destinations, there is no bad time to visit which is great for those looking for a winter break.

With an average temperature of 32 degrees all year round, the Maldives guarantees great weather for holidaymakers.

Visit the Maldives
Visit the Maldives

The Ultimate Luxury

If you are looking for a luxurious holiday destination, the Maldives should be at the very top of your list – turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches provide a stunning setting for long walks on the beach, beautiful sunsets and romantic diners by the sea.

Your Own Slice of Paradise

If you long to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Maldives is where you will find your own slice of island life.

If you wish you can create your own romantic cocoon and secure your place on an all inclusive resort.

If it’s a romantic holiday you are looking for, the Maldives ticks all of the boxes and if it’s romance you are looking for you will find it in abundance.

Marvellous Marine Life

The Maldives has more to offer than beautiful blue beaches and stunning scenery.

If you want to get active during your stay, the coral reef is one of the main attractions.

You can go scuba diving and experience what the clear waters have to offer.

You can visit all of the top scuba diving spots on the island or take to the seas for a spot of whale watching.

Spectacular Spas

Everyone needs a little me time and there is no better place for a spot of pampering than the Maldives.

As soon as you step off the plane, you can feel the stresses of everyday life disappear as you get to grips with island life.

If you want to relax and unwind, the Maldives has a lot to offer those who want to de-stress.

Almost all of the exclusive resorts on the island boast beautiful spa facilities and an impressive menu of spa treatments.

So, there you have it, five reasons to visit the Maldives this summer

(photo credit: 1)

With bungalows perched on stilts above a sea as clear as bathwater, and with countless, uncrowded beaches, the Maldives are the ultimate destination for island luxury.

The Maldives are made up of over 1,000 islands, 200 of them inhabited, and many of those are home to resorts.”

It’s difficult to visit the Maldives on a budget, but very few places can compete with the comfort and extravagance provided by a Maldives resort.

Any trip to the Maldives should include these activities:

Get Pampered While on Holiday in the Maldives

Almost every Maldives resort has a spa, and these spas incorporate traditional remedies from the Ayurvedic tradition as well as sand massages and coconut oil treatments.

Holiday in the Maldives
Holiday in the Maldives

Given the incredible beauty and remoteness of the natural surroundings, receiving a treatment here after a day of snorkeling and swimming may be quite possibly the most relaxing thing on earth.

Stressed out travelers planning their next holiday probably can’t do better to heal what ails them.

Play Castaway

For those who really want to get away from it all, it’s possible to visit an uninhabited island and claim it for a day.

As only 200 of the islands are inhabited, that leaves more than 800 unoccupied islands to explore.

Travel there by boat and learn about traditional fishing, or take an air taxi.

Safari boats allow visitors to tour multiple islands whereas it’s possible to arrange an overnight stay with a dhoni boat.

Hang up a hammock and crack open a coconut as you enjoy unparalleled solitude — excepting visits from sea turtles and other wildlife.”

Visit Malé

With all the resorts and tourists, it’s easy to overlook local life and customs. Remedy that with a trip to the capital city of Malé.

Visit Malé
Visit Malé

Shop in the markets, admire the brightly-painted buildings and mosques, and take advantage of one of the only inexpensive pleasures of the Maldives: the street food!

Enjoy rich, spicy curries, the freshest of fish, and any number of deep-fried snacks.

Visitors should note that while drinking laws are relaxed for the resorts, drinking alcohol is not permitted in the capital.

The National Museum is small but gives visitors a sense of the islands’ history, and is housed in the only remaining building of what was once a Sultan’s opulent palace.

Maldives

Maldives

If you are willing to travel a little further afield and spend a bit more cash, the Maldives is the summer holiday retreat for you.

Just 200 of the 1000 plus islands are inhabited but that doesn’t stop the visitors pouring in every year to benefit from the gorgeous weather and great range of activities on offer.

The Maldives are perfect from diving and snorkeling as the clear water coupled with amazing coral islands to dive around give you plenty to explore, whilst the beautiful white, sandy beaches are the ideal place to rest up for the day and top up your tan if water sport isn’t your thing.

This amazingly beautiful island nation must be paradise on earth, and looking at the pictures I can see why so many people go there for their honeymoon.

The white beaches, the great diving and snorkeling, the relaxed atmosphere.. it just seems like a place where you can really sit back and relax for a while.

But not for too long, Maldives is sinking, and scientists fear the sea level is rising up to 0.9cm a year.

Maldives
Maldives

Since 80% of its 1,200 islands are no more than 1m above sea level, within 100 years the Maldives could become completely uninhabitable.

Visiting the place is probably the last thing you should worry about, but I have to say that I would like to see it before it’s all under water.

Photos:  (1, 2, 3)

4 Reasons China Is On My Travel Wish List

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China Is On My Travel Wish List – China is a huge country with never-ending possibilities, sights and attractions – what fascinates me about this place is the diversity and mixture of old and new, past and future.

And how they all seem to blend in with each other and be a part of everyday life of the people.

There are so many things to see, but the only problem with traveling around China is the distance between all the must-see places.

The best way to see a lot in a short time is probably to take a few China tours, so you can spend more time at the attractions than getting to them especially in Shanghai China

I can’t wait to explore China, and these are the reasons why…

China Is On My Travel Wish List

Wonders of The World

China Is On My Travel Wish List
China Is On My Travel Wish List

China’s long history has left behind some amazing works of art, culture and architecture.

From the army of 8000 Terracotta warriors to the 1000 year old Leshan Buddha – the largest Buddha statue in the world, there are many world famous wonders in China.

However, the number one wonder to see is of course the Great Wall of China.

This 2000 year old wall that stretches over 5000 km across the country, is one of the most popular attractions in China.

I would like to take Great Wall of China tours to the more remote sections of the wall, and maybe stay overnight nearby to see the golden color of the wall at dawn.

Another fascinating place I would love to explore is Mount Wudang with its temples, palaces and bridges, and Nathan wants to go there for its world famous martial arts.

Both Tai Chi and Wudang Kung Fu were first practiced on this mountain.

China Is On My Travel Wish List Ancient Cities

China Is On My Travel Wish List Ancient Cities
China Is On My Travel Wish List Ancient Cities

China has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (after Italy and Spain), and due to its long history there are many ancient beautiful cities and temples.

The Forbidden City is one of the ancient cities that interests me the most.

The city got its name from being off-limits to the world for 500 years, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the public was allowed in.

Perhaps because of this, the city has the best preserved ancient buildings in China, and is home to the largest ancient palace in the world.

China Enchanting Landscape and Wildlife

China Enchanting Landscape and Wildlife 
China Enchanting Landscape and Wildlife

While China’s cities seem fun to visit, it’s the landscape and nature on the country side that attracts me the most to this country.

Ancient rivers and lakes, sacred mountains and limestone hills, the diverse nature that has inspired artists and poets for centuries would be a beautiful sight.

Aside from the tranquil nature, China also has one of the greatest diversity of wildlife in the world, including the Giant Panda, South China tiger, golden-haired monkey, white flag dolphin among many others.

I would love to visit the Chengdu Research base of Giant Panda Breeding, to see – and maybe even hold, a panda.

Great Shopping in China

Great Shopping in China 
Great Shopping in China

Shanghai, Beijing and shopping in Hong Kong are often referred to as shopping meccas of the world.

From huge street markets and gigantic shopping malls, to tiny boutiques and corner shops, along with massive sale seasons – these cities are made for serious shoppers.

Are you going to China to work? Before visiting or teaching in China, there are some great apps to check out.

I get the feeling that the shopping malls that amazed me in Kuala Lumpur would be nothing compared to the ones in Hong Kong, where some have over 700 stores..!

10 Reasons to Visit Hong Kong NOW

If you’ve never visit Hong Kong now’s the time to do it: this breathtaking, busy and brilliant city is guaranteed to give you the trip of a lifetime!

With its Chinese roots, history as a British colony and subsequent return as a Special Administration Region of China, you’ll find that Hong Kong isn’t really like any other place in the world.

You’ll find plenty to love in this city, from the food to the fashion to the friendly locals.

Here are ten reasons why you should drop everything and start planning your trip now:

Visit Hong Kong
Visit Hong Kong

Hong Kong Museums are some of the best in all of China.

It’s well worth visiting at least a couple museums while you’re in Hong Kong, time permitting.

You have plenty of great options to choose from, including the Museum of History, the Museum of Art, the Racing Museum (where you can learn about the history of horse-racing in this former British colony), the Space Museum, the International Hobby and Toy Museum… Well, you get the picture: there are a lot of great places to check out! Best of all, many museums offer free admission on Wednesdays.

Hong Kong skyline is epic

Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers of any city in the world—more than 1,200!

This means that you can get some amazing metropolis views, with layers upon layers of buildings.

Best places to check out are the Peak or the view from the Star Ferry as you cross Victoria Harbor.

Or if you’re looking for a backdrop to your evening, check out one of the amazing rooftop bars; Hong Kong really does these better than anywhere else in the world!

At night, Victoria Harbor comes to life with the Symphony of Lights show.

The waterfront Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s iconic Walk of Fame, will have you oohing and ahhing at the views even during the day, but it really gets magical at 8:00 p.m. every night, when the whole harbor is lit up with a beautiful lightshow called the Symphony of Lights.

You’ll be able to hear the show’s narration via loudspeakers spread along the Avenue of Stars, so it’s a great place to watch from.

There are plenty of neat temples.

Although much of Hong Kong’s population isn’t particularly religious, you’ll find no shortage of temples, which can be fascinating to explore due to their architecture and unique iconography.

Po Lin Monastery is one of the most-visited of Hong Kong’s temples, or check out the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.

Visiting temples can be great for someone on a budget, as many offer free or cheap admittance, but they’ll still give you a good look into the culture of the area.

Hong Kong’s food is amazing.

Whatever cuisine you’re after, you’ll find it here.

Hong Kong has a huge array of restaurants specializing in dim sum and other Asian or world cuisines; there are plenty of special dishes that are native to Hong Kong as well.

There are tons of things you should try during your visit.

Know that markets can be a great place to sample local foods—don’t avoid the street food, just look for clean places with plenty of customers and freshly-cooked food.

Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise

Speaking of markets, you can’t go to Hong Kong and not see the markets.

Mong Kok is one of the most-populous neighborhoods in the world, and it’s got some great shops for everything from food to souvenirs.

Check out the Ladies’ Market or the Temple Street Night Market, and you’ll find yourself lost in the scents, sounds and colors of these vibrant streets.

Even if you’re not much of a shopper, you may want to remember that Hong Kong doesn’t charge sales or import taxes, meaning that prices, for everything from electronics to shoes, are often cheaper on the island than they are anywhere else in the world!

Hong Kong brings together all the best of urban and outdoors.

No matter how active you are, you’ll find something fun to do outdoors in Hong Kong.

From tai chi lessons in Victoria Park to a cruise on Victoria Harbor to hiking the iconic Dragon’s Back or some of the other great trails in the area, there are plenty of great options—so get out and explore!

It’s easy to get around from place to place.

Hong Kong has one of the best transit systems in the world, meaning that wherever you want to get to, you can likely find a way to get there.

Check out the extensive network of buses and trams, and make sure to pick up an Octopus card—no only is this card helpful in paying for various public transportation, but you can also use it at various shops and restaurants around the city to really simplify things.

You don’t have to worry about being trapped behind the Great Firewall of China.

Unlike mainland China, you won’t need to install a VPN to access your social media or email accounts.

Of course, you may want one anyway so you can stream Netflix on those rainy days (believe it or not, your account will be blocked when you try to access it from overseas), and a VPN will also protect your personal information when you’re accessing public WiFi networks (no one wants their identity stolen while they’re traveling abroad, which unfortunately happens pretty frequently!).

That said, Hong Kong actually has some of the least-intrusive government internet censorship policies in the world.

It’s easy to get to Hong Kong

Forget that complicated Chinese visa process; Hong Kong handles its own visas, and many visitors (including those from the EU, Canada and the United States) aren’t required to get visas unless they intend to stay longer than 90 days on the island.

And there are plenty of airlines that fly into Hong Kong International Airport as well.

So really, you have no excuse not to book your trip there right now!

Have you been to Hong Kong?

What were some of your favorite parts of your trip?

Do you have any tips for others who are planning a trip there?

Please tell us about them in the comments!

Things to Do in Shanghai China ~ Here’s Everything You Will Want to Know

Shanghai China is known to be the most prosperous city in China since 1930 and continues to be so.

It is the major financial hub and also the world’s largest container harbor.

There are so many things to do in Shanghai China.

Here we make it easy with these categories:

  • Attractions
  • Activities
  • Art and culture
  • Food and drinks
  • Music and nightlife
  • Shopping
Shanghai China
Shanghai China

Shanghai is a prominent global city which has completely transformed into an ultra modern city with huge skyscrapers and world of art technology.

With well-organized infrastructure and various tourist spots like Shanghai Zoo, Baoyang Road Harbor, Museums, Temples, Gardens and Pearl Tower, Shanghai is a hot city among travelers.

A trip to Shanghai China, the largest city in China, offers a lot of excitement at every turn.

The bristling high-rise buildings in the city transport you to the future; but you will face reality on the street level, where everyday drama unfolds with bewildering variety.

An old vendor is peddling veggies along a murky side-street that is a stark contrast to a Prada-clad head-turner leaving her sunny condo for a day in the salon.

Check out our list of things to do in Shanghai China.

Here are the most popular attractions in Shanghai:

Yu Yuan Garden

Yu Yuan Garden
Yu Yuan Garden

Assumed to have been built 400 years ago, the Yuyuan Garden is a very popular place to visit.

With its huge rock and tree gardens, ponds, crisscross bridges, antique furnishings and murals, sculptures and carvings, it’s easy to see why it has become so popular.

The downside is that it can get very crowded, so it’s best to avoid during the weekend!

Jing An Temple

Jing An Temple
Jing An Temple

The Temple in its modern form can be traced back to 19th century with a huge copper bell weighing about 3 tons, tracing its setting back to Ming Dynasty.

You’ll find a white Jade Buddha statue which is quite impressive, and the architecture of the temple is pretty unique.

Shanghai Municipal History Museum

This museum has a splendid collection of old trams, rickshaws, vintage cars, Jades of historical importance and coins.

It truly represents the ancient Chinese art and is a symbol of ancient philosophy and culture.

The Bund

The Bund
The Bund

And finally, one of the city’s best attractions – The Bund.

This place offers an amazing contrast and mixture of old and new: walking along the river you will see old colonial architecture on one side and modern skyscrapers on the other.

This is the best place to find yourself at night, as the views of the lighted skyline is very impressive.

Go in the afternoon so that you can experience the place both during day time with its awesome architecture, and after dark with the beautiful views.

Activities in Shanghai China

Watch a bird singing contest in Guilin Park

The birds’ competition in Guilin Park takes place amidst everything related to birds.

Contest starts at 9am, with battle rounds taking place in hushed circles away from the busy market area.

Five bird groups are rotated as judges score their performance according to: volume, change of tone and length of song.

The birds that tweet louder and longer are sure to win.

Take a trip to the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel

This is one of Shanghai’s top five tourist attractions and one of the strangest too.

Experience the bizarre, trippy audio-visual effects being played as you travel in an automated car ‘into the core of the Earth’ under the Huangpu River.

Experience the exhilarating Green Massage

They say that the traditional Chinese acupressure is not for the weak-hearted.

Chinese acupressure is like China itself, hard and tough. Green Massage, located at the rear of Huaihai Park, will provide you a healing massage that is a level over many other massage services in Shanghai.

Arts and culture in Shanghai China

Absorb Shanghai’s culture by visiting museums

The Shanghai Museum, located on People’s Square, has much more than its calligraphy or jades or ceramics exhibits.

In fact, the shape of the museum itself mimics an ancient bronze cauldron.

China Tobacco Museum is the largest of its kind in the world.

Look at the bewildering array of smoking paraphernalia that is spread over three floors.

Shanghai Glasses Museum displays hundreds of different frames and lenses, some of which date all the way back to the Song dynasty.

Spend time in Shanghai’s best art galleries

M50 at 50 Moganshan Lu is home to over 25 art galleries and spaces, including some of the city’s best.

Eastlink, in Building No. 18, M50 along #50 Moganshan Lu, at the vicinity of Xi Suzhou Lu, owns some of the most spectacular collections of contemporary art in China.

ShanghARTShanghART, located in Building 16, M50, 50 Moganshan Lu, near Xi Suzhou Lu, has over 40 artists on their roster, including China’s best artworks.

Get a glimpse of Shanghai Film Park

During its heydays, this park was always crowded but it is now almost empty.

Although, amateurish stunt shows are scheduled daily at 10.30am and 1.30pm; but otherwise, the sets are a ghost town.

You can roam the area in peace, surrounded by dilapidated replicas of Hengshan Moller Villa, Nanking Lu and Waibaidu Bridge.

Food and drinks in Shanghai China

Taste dumpling or xiaolong bao

Invented by a street vendor in the later part of the 19th century, this gustatory delight today has become so popular that they are a Chinese food icon in Asia and around the world.

Authentic dumplings that have stood the test of time are found in these eateries in Shanghai.

Savor seafood along Shanghai’s best food streets

These are lively and friendly place where you can taste cheap seafood supper.

Most popular outlet for crayfish is the Crayfish House (numbers 17 and 23) and is marked by the huge queues of young hungry customers outside.

The best in seafood barbecue at number 38 is usually a safe bet.

Traditional Shanghai food I served in a refurbish villa

A lovely vintage -filled villa, located in #375 Zhenning Lu, adjacent of Yuyuan Lu, in Jingan district, is serving delicious traditional Shanghainese cuisine.

You have to make an advanced reservation.

Music and nightlife in Shanghai China

Be part of Shanghai’s nightlife and enjoy its music. There are so many options to choose from.

You can go club and bar-hopping among these places:

For the view

The 58th floor of the new Ritz-Carlton Pudong has the terrace Flair where you have one of the best views in town.

For the best in cocktails

Senator Saloon houses lead all other venues. The place boosts of a lovely interior of dark wood beneath a spectacular tin roof brought especially from Texas.

For a secret Japanese ambiance

Mokkos is a hidden bar down a quiet alley on a quiet street where the friendly barmen will only serve you shochu and plum wine with quirky reggae music in the background.

For old world elegance

The wood-panelled glory of Art Deco is the pride of Waldorf Astoria’s long bar where you can listen to classic jazz music while sipping your delectable cocktails complemented with oysters and nibbling sophisticated bar snacks.

For rubbing-elbows with Shanghai’s jet-setters

Bar Rouge is always packed with a crowd of party posers, from slick European chino-and-loafer types to the local Chinese jet-set.

For a glimpse of Shanghai’s Old Jazz Band

With members in their 80s, these young-at-heart players are performing at the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

Shopping Up a Storm in Shanghai ~ Quick Guide to the Best Shopping in Shanghai

If shopping is your thing and you can think of nothing better than spending your spare time stalking through street malls, you’ve picked the right place for a holiday.

Shanghai has some of the best markets, malls and shopping streets in the world.

Here is a guide to some of the best shopping in Shanghai, all in close proximity to the main tourist accommodation precincts.

Buy the best products

Nanjing and Huaihai Roads are main shopping streets where you find an overabundance of international brand names.

But if stylish shopping is not your interest, you will enjoy exploring several flea markets under the impressive boutiques, department stores and shopping malls of the city.

Experience shopping in outdoor bazaars

At Yuyuan Garden, there are several outdoor bazaars selling souvenirs, arts and crafts; and a rare cache of souvenir items, arts and crafts are also found at the Cultural Street Market on Fuzhou Road and the Antique Street Market on Dongtai Road.

The clothing street market on Shimen Road is a traditional open-air Chinese markets that offer troves of bargain.

Whether it’s jewelry, clothes, technology or food that tickles your fancy, Shanghai will deliver.

All of these shopping areas are in close proximity to the main tourist accommodation precincts.

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is not only the main shopping street in Shanghai, it’s the biggest in China and one of the busiest in the world!

Located in the heart of the city, it stretches over one kilometer long.

From designer brands to knock-off goods, this shopping strip has it all!

When you get sick of shopping, saunter down to People’s Park, smack-bang in the middle of the street.

You can have lunch in the fresh air, or take a stroll through the Shanghai Museum.

Being so central, Nanjing Road is filled with a wide range of accommodation options.

You can easily find Shanghai hotels close  by.

Shop here for: Everything!

Huaihai Road

If you are a lover of labels and luxury goods, you can’t beat the high-end designer stores of Huaihai Road.

The second most famous shopping street after Nanjing Road, Huaihai is the home of big-brand names including Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. as well as the boutiques. Huaihai Road also boasts a number of large department stores.

You can make a night of it by sampling one of its many restaurants or by staying in one of the local hotels.

Shop here for: Designer brands

Dongtai Lu Antiques Market

Dongtai Lu Antiques Market is 200 meters long and made up of approximately 100 stalls.

It is packed full of vintage goodies, tasty trinkets, antique treasures and a fair bit of junk.

Best Shopping in Shanghai - Dongtai Lu Antiques Market

Patience is your friend here, and if you take the time to search through all of the clutter and knock-offs, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.”

Regardless of the quality, it’s a great place to pick up some gorgeous items for home décor purposes.

Take note to haggle hard!

Shop here for: Antiques and home wares

South Yunnan Snack Street

Food, food, glorious food … almost too many options to take in! Located a 10-minute trot from People’s Square, South Yunnan Snack Street is the perfect place to satisfy a busy shopper’s hungry tum.

A cluster of restaurants, street food stalls and other eateries, this historic dining destination offers the best in Chinese cuisine.

Sample dumplings, Beijing roast duck, stuffed buns, chop rice cake and other delicious local delicacies.

Shop here for: Food in all its forms!

Cybermart

For all things electronic, look no further than Shanghai’s famous Cybermart, stocked full of every gizmo, gadget and game imaginable.

Best Shopping in Shanghai - Cybermart

Here you will find outlets for a range of Chinese and international technology brands, including Apple, IBM, NEC, Canon and Sony.

It’s enough to satisfy the palette of even the most discerning tech-enthusiast.

As well as being a great place to go computer crazy, Cybermart also hosts a range of phone/computer repair stalls.

Perhaps it’s time to get that cracked iPad screen fixed once and for all!

Shop here for: Technology and electronics

Shanghai Yatai Clothing and Gifts Market

An Asian shopping experience in its purest form, the Shanghai Yatai Clothing and Gift Market is the perfect place to pick up cheap goodies.

Located underground near the famed Science and Technology Museum, the Yatai Clothing and Gifts Market is awash with handbags, sunglasses, wallets and watches, making it the go-to place for presents.

Bring your best bargaining shoes and don’t ever pay more than 30% of the original asking price.

Shop here for: Souvenirs

Before visiting China, be sure to check out these apps which will help you with the language and with commuting.

With so much more things to do in Shanghai, your bucket list is brimming over so another visit to this city might help you cover the entire list.

5 Tips On Budget Travel In China

China is becoming a more and more popular destination for travelers of all sorts, from the typical holiday makers to budget travelers looking for a cheap hotel in Hong Kong for a few nights, this country has it all.

Stunning sceneries, beautiful temples and delicious Chinese food are some of the main reasons to travel to the Land of the Dragon.

However, the prices in China seem to be increasing lately.

Compared to America or Europe, China is still a fairly cheap travel destination, but it’s much more expensive than most of Asian countries nowadays than Shanghai China

5 Tips On Budget Travel In China
5 Tips On Budget Travel In China

But if you know your way around, you can still travel cheaply around China…and cross of your bucket list by traveling to Tibet

Here are some tips to apply in your daily travel routine that will help you save some money when traveling in China…

#1 Use local transport

Avoid taxis and travel around the country using local transport instead.

Trains in China

Travelling by train is the cheapest option. There are 4 types of tickets available:

  • standing ticket 无座
  • hard seat 硬座
  • soft seat 软座
  • hard sleeper 硬卧

The standing ticket is the cheapest option, but also the least comfortable.

Keep in mind that you sometimes will be able to get a hard seat ticket for the same price.

If your budget is very tight, you can buy a standing ticket and try to get a seat on the train.

Chinese people are very polite and they will not allow you to stand.

There will always be someone who will give up a seat for you.

Budget Travel In China via train

China is a huge country, which means that traveling from one place to another often takes up to 26 hours.

Thus, the most comfortable option is to buy a hard sleeper ticket.

These are usually 3 times more expensive than a hard seat ticket, so it all depends on your budget and how you want to travel.

China Subway

Taking the subway is the cheapest and fastest way to explore Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The subway tickets in Shanghai only cost RMB2 (£0.20/ $0.30).

Bus in China

Travel by bus in China

Local buses are extremely cheap, and you can usually get a ride anywhere in the city for RMB1 (£0.10/ $0.16).

Meanwhile, long distance buses are sometimes more expensive than the trains, but they are also more comfortable.

Sometimes you can even watch a movie or try surfing the Internet (although that rarely works). Be sure to check out these 6 apps when visiting China.

#2 Eat street food

The food in China can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.

There are always many places to eat and it is often cheaper to eat out every day than cooking at home.

As long as you eat in local places and grab some snacks from the street you will find very cheap food.

However, there are many restaurants located in city centers where the food is not cheap at all.

The same food in the local restaurant can cost 10 times more in a touristy place, so be careful to check the prices before ordering.

The menus are not in English, but you can ask someone around to translate it for you.

Street vendors in china

Here is a brief example of what prices you can expect when dining out in:

Local restaurant/street food:

Breakfast consisting of 3 baozi (包子 – a kind of Chinese dumpling) and porridge –  ¥5 (£0.50/ $0.80)

Decent bowl of fried noodles with vegetables for ¥4 (£0.40/ $0.64)

Restaurants for foreigners:

5 baozi with a bowl of porridge for ¥30 (£3/ $4.8)

Fried noodles with vegetables for ¥45 (£4.5/ $7.2)
Can you see the price difference?

#3 Work as a teacher

If you are running out of cash but don’t want to stop travelling, a great way to extend your trip is to look for a teaching job in one of the provinces in China.

Nowadays, all schools in every province are looking for foreign teachers to teach oral English to Chinese students.

Some schools do not even require you to possess any teaching experience nor TESOL/ TEFL certificate.

All they need is a foreigner who would have fun and play with kids talking in English to them.

The salary varies from ¥5000 (£500/ $800) to ¥12000 (£1200/ $1900) per month per 16 teaching session a week.

Sounds like a decent wage, right?

Teach English in China

#4 Travel off the beaten path

Try to avoid touristy spots and start exploring ‘off the beaten path’ places – it is much cheaper and definitely more adventurous.

Have you heard of the Floating Hallelujah Mountains in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province? No?

That’s a real pity!

These incredible mountains will simply take your breath away.

ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and definitely deserves some attention from travelers who fancy a breath-taking walk among limestone formations rocketing to the sky.

Instead of spending weeks in busy Beijing or Shanghai, go explore the Hunan province!

#5 Learn some basic Chinese

Chinese people will be over the moon when they hear you talk some Chinese, often treating you with some nice free food and won’t stop talking to you.

Some of them might even ask you to stay overnight at their place!

Once you visit the places (Tibet in April) where tourists are rarely seen, you quickly notice that Chinese people do not speak English at all.

Therefore, look up some basic Chinese words you will need for everyday conversations such as “hi”, “order”, “food”, “how much”, “too expensive” and go try to speak to them.

If you struggle to learn them all by heart, take your dictionary with you and show them.

The more of the language you know, the bigger your chances are of being able to haggle down prices.

6 Apps You Must Have on Your Phone Before Teaching in China

You finally landed that awesome teaching job in China and you’re already packing your bags? T

hat’s terrific news, but you shouldn’t rush the departure.

There are some things you need to do before teaching in China.

Before venturing into a foreign country, presumably on the other half on the planet, you need to ask yourself:

“What is the single most important factor of working abroad?”

The answer?

Adaptability!

Recent studies show that foreign workers who feel at home right upon arrival perform up to 60% higher.

Most of these newcomers either have a friend or a relative to guide them, but you don’t need that.

Why feel like a stranger when there’s a myriad of welcoming software at your fingertips, regardless of where you set foot?

6 Must Have Apps before Teaching in China

Here are the most helpful Android & iOS attaches in the Chinese republic.

My Best Free iPad and iPhone travel apps

Pleco, Every Teacher’s Best Friend

Since communication is your greatest prerequisite in this line of work, a viable dictionary is a must.

Pleco is not just a collection of peculiar characters, it is an unbelievable tool designed specifically for conversational Chinese.

Pleco for teaching English
Pleco for teaching English

You are bound to be surrounded by unknown symbols throughout your stay.

Conveniently, this app translates any Chinese text in front of your camera and even tells you how to pronounce it.

Although the app isn’t free, dishing out a few bucks to get your hands on something as useful as Pleco is worth it.

WeChat, The Official Chinese Messenger

Sometimes, even teachers need to do their homework.

If you’ve done yours, it’s imminent that you’ve heard of China’s harsh internet restrictions.

WeChat is the only chat application that China hasn’t blocked for its internet users.

Everyone in China uses it, but you can also connect with everyone back in your hometown if they install it.

One of the most astonishing features of WeChat is the ability to connect it to your credit card and use it for shopping.

Simply scan the QR code, and you will get charged automatically on your way out.

Another intriguing function of the app is its scanner.

It shows the profiles and distance of the nearby users.

This commodity enables you to possibly even check on any late students.

Apps before Teaching in China
Apps before Teaching in China

Metroman, The Faithful Underground Companion

Without a doubt, the fastest way of commuting throughout China’s gigantic hubs is by using the subway.

Getting to a lecture punctually has never been easier than boarding a bullet train.

The Metroman app offers you a real-time map of the current trains, as well as the most optimal route suggestion based on your location and destination.

The handy app also works in offline mode and calculates your fares.

It covers 24 of China’s biggest cities, allowing you the smoothest transportation experience.

You will want to check out this app before teaching in China.

As a complete stranger, you will be able to find your way around like the locals.

Waygo, The Ultimate Translator

Have you ever seen one of those futuristic films where automatic translations are instantaneous and flawless?

That future is now, thanks to Waygo.

Remember those odd-looking ‘hieroglyphs’ you’re used to seeing in eastern movies or Chinatown?

Now you can read all of them in English without a need to stop and scan.

Waygo is adamant on making you feel like Chinese is your native language (at least when reading it), and it delivers no less than that!

Youku, The Mobile Hollywood

Where will you watch your favorite shows or watch some quality documentaries when China has banned both YouTube and Netflix?

Well Youku of course, for it is a fusion of the two.

This is one of the most prominent Chinese apps that even foreigners are anxious to start using, although it’s restricted to the Chinese territory.

It offers an extravagant viewing experience for both locals and visitors alike.

Alipay, Your Eastern Wallet

Meet the Chinese version of PayPal, as useful and secure as you can imagine.

When you receive your funds from teaching, you will be able to instantly access them on Alipay.

Your mobile phone is the only shopping necessity in almost every store across China since Alipay is the nationwide most popular payment method.

Home is Wherever Your Apps Are

By putting to use all of these versatile applications before teaching in China, you will eliminate any feeling of alienation.

I’ts stressful enough to travel. To understand the language will assist any visitor who’s teaching English overseas.

When it comes to getting paid through modern means, it is perhaps even easier in another country than your own.

To top it off, the irreplaceable homey piece of mind can now follow you everywhere by the internet.

It’s safe to claim that you can live with the same comfort you’re accustomed to, even in a country as reserved as China.

( Photo credit 1 – 23 – 4 – 1 – 2 –  3 )

Delicious Must Try Drinks in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is a country famous for its spicy food and varied cuisine, and while you could write a whole book about the food in Sri Lanka, we shouldn’t forget the drinks in Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for those looking for cheap holidays, and since food and drinks in Sri Lanka cost close to nothing, you can indulge in eating and drinking all day long.

drinks in Sri Lanka tea plantations in Sri Lanka
tea plantations in Sri Lanka

Here are some popular drinks in Sri Lanka, you must try:

The days on the tea plantations in Sri Lanka are long and tiresome, and the hard working tea pickers only earn a little over 1 dollar per day, two if they’re “lucky”.

We gave this woman some tip after taking some photos, and it was such a sad feeling knowing that the money she works so hard every day to earn, we spend in a heartbeat on the most useless things like ice cream and nail polish.

Ceylon Tea

Sri Lanka is the third largest tea producing country in the world, so it is no surprise that tea is one of the most common drinks in Sri Lanka.

Tea plants were introduced by the British in the 19th century, and today you can enjoy a cup of the finest Ceylon tea in tea houses overlooking the beautiful tea plantations in the highlands.

Just remember that Sri Lankans like their tea sweet – VERY sweet, so if you don’t want a massive sugar kick then ask the waiter to only put one or two tea spoons of sugar in your cup.

Sri Lanka King Coconut Juice
Sri Lanka King Coconut Juice

King Coconut Juice

King coconut palm trees line the beaches and surround the homes of locals, providing shade from the sun along with a thousand other ways to use the coconuts growing at the top.

This orange coconut is very important for the Sri Lankan people, who refer to it as a “living pharmacy”.

Our taxi driver bought us a couple of coconuts from a street stall and while the seller hacked a hole with his machete knife the driver told us all the possible benefits this “natural energy drink” apparently had.

Sri Lankans use the King Coconut, also known as Thambili, in everything from cooking to Ayurvedic medicine.

It’s much sweeter (and tastier) than the green Young Coconut and the perfect thirst quencher, you can find it for sale on the streets everywhere.

Toddy & Arrack

Toddy is a light alcoholic drink (4%) made from fermented coconut palm sap, and is usually served in Toddy shacks around the country.

Every morning at dawn, toddy tappers climb onto the palm trees along the coastlines of Sri Lanka and harvest the palm sap from unopened coconut flowers – every tree can provide up to two liters of this stuff every day.

The sap ferments immediately into toddy and becomes mildly alcoholic.

You drink it like beer, but don’t expect it to taste like it – toddy definitely has an acquired taste – don’t believe anyone who says that it tastes like cider, it’s more like vinegar!

Arrack is one of the most traditional drinks in Sri Lanka which is distilled from toddy or palm syrup, and has a much higher percentage of alcohol (60 – 90%).

The golden colored drink is often regarded as the national drink of Sri Lanka, and tastes like something between Whisky and Rum.

Many people mix it with Sprite, ginger beer or Coke into a cocktail – you can get both these drinks from the local Toddy shacks.

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Faluda

Faluda is like a liquid dessert – a sweet combination of milk and rose syrup with poppy seeds and jelly pieces.

It’s a muslim specialty, sometimes served with cashew nuts and ice cream – yum!

Elephant House Ginger Beer

Elephant House Ginger Beer is a popular Sri Lankan soft drink prepared with natural Ayurvedic ginger (one of the few to do this in the world) grown from local farmers in the hill-country.

The drink proclaims to have Ayurvedic properties, helping digestion and relieving drowsiness from a heavy meal.

It’s really tasty and is a perfect match with spicy foods.

Melanesia – Amazing Things To See and Do

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Melanesia, a group of islands north and north east of Australia (including: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu), is a region that puts an emphasis on what “paradise” really means.

The islands are amazingly beautiful, the history and culture is exotic and many of the people are known to be the happiest and friendliest in the world.

Melanesia is a fascinating place, and apart from the natural beauty I find it to be a very mysterious part of the world.

Partly I think it’s because we don’t know all that much about this part of the world or it’s history.

There was no written language before the Europeans came instead they used words of mouth from generation to generation to educate and share stories.

NEW! – We just released an e-book called The Pre-Travel Guide – it’s designed as a step-by-step guide to help you improve every part of your RTW preparation – from planning, saving, where to go, health, 1st month on the road etc – Download Here.

Even today, long after the Europeans first arrived, there are still many communities with little to no interaction with the ‘real’ world.

They still live the same lifestyle they always have, with the same traditions, beliefs and customs.

Here are some of the most fascinating customs and traditions in Melanesia – as well as some amazing things you really need to do and see:

Melanesia – Amazing Things To See and Do

Melanesia
Melanesia

The Wig-Men

The Huli tribe, often known as “The Wig Men” live in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea.

They are known to be the fiercest warriors in the world, but they’re also known for one of their softer traits – THEIR WIGS.

The Huli men make wigs out of their own hair, and to make a wig you not only need strong hair, but a lot of it.

For the men in this tribe, the hair is the number one most important thing, and for the boys to attend “hair-school”.

To grow strong, healthy hair, the young men live together in a monastic lifestyle under the guidance of a wig master.

Only after their wig is ready can they marry.

They have both every day wigs as well as ceremonial wigs, and for the ceremonials they prepare for hours.

The Invention Of Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping was actually invented in Vanuatu.

This is where AJ Hacket got his inspiration. Land diving (as they called it) is an important tradition in Vanuatu.

Young men throw themselves from shaky wooden towers in tree vines, head first straight towards the ground.

It’s a passage for young men to prove their manhood.

The idea is to jump from as high up as possible, and come as close to the ground as possible (preferably touch the ground lightly with your head).

They Play Sport Without a Winner

The sport of cricket has become an important sport in Melanesia (although it is still unknown of in the remote villages and areas), but the rules have changed slightly to adapt to local attitudes.

For example in the Trobriand Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea, cricket is a very big sport, but there is no winner..!

This I think is an amazing sign of the honest, caring and ego-less way of living done by the people in Melanesia – which is mostly suppressed and ignored in the West.

Swim In Jellyfish Lake

Millions of years ago jellyfish were trapped in the Palau Lake after a submerged reef rose from the sea, creating a saltwater lake.

In this lake, the jellyfish have adapted to the new conditions by losing their sting (since they didn’t need it).

During the day the jellyfish follow the sun and stay at the surface, so when you go snorkeling, you can find them all around you.

Visit An Active Erupting Volcano

The Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, it has been erupting every few minutes for the last 800 years.

Being the most accessible volcano in the world it is also known for its beautiful explosions, and is called “The Light House Of The Pacific” because of the eruptions which can be seen from the sea!

A visit here can be dangerous, but you get to take some amazing travel photos! 😉